What We Learned From Analyzing 22m+ Dating Profiles Using Artificial Intelligence

How do online daters present themselves on online dating sites and apps? Is there a common denominator with all profiles depending on the intention of being on the dating site?

Men are from Mars? How Men Present Themselves Online

how men present themselves online

From the long history of mankind we know that male chances to succeed are especially good when physical attractiveness and cultural capital meet at a high level.

Looking into our data, we see that many men are trying to satisfy these requirements by using pictures of themselves while training at the gym or showing their possessions like cars, tech, or luxury items.

male appearance characteristics

There are seven dominant characteristics that we noticed on male profile photos. Roughly a third of men's pictures features a beard. Glasses – sunglasses included, are present in about 13% of all images. Guys showing their muscle-bound body/chest make up to 11.42% of all images - in addition a tenth of these images shows a hairy chest - whereas a well detectable smile is only present in less than 5% of all images (a bit disappointing).

Showing off tattoos are not as popular as we initially thought, however it still made our list. Flirty and fun photos showing the tongue were also considerably less.

How does the average male online dater look like?

average male online dater

It seems that the average male online dater is a simple man. One thing he likes to show off is his muscles – whether it may be a topless mirror selfie in the gym or an outdoor shot. He also likes to DJ or is into music – he'll make sure to recommend you good tunes. Plus, the average male online dater also shows responsibility by committing to a sport, takes care of his car, and by having (or wanting to have) a dog to take care of.

Choppers, Lacrosse, Military: Top Interests of Men Online Daters Per Age Group According to Their Profile Pictures

A quick look at online dating profiles of men from different age groups, we noticed that there are activities or things that are dominantly present on each age group. Let’s look at them below!

male photo motives list

Young men are very athletic.

young man into sports

Men ages 18 to 24 are very much into sports – and they do like to show it off in their online dating profiles. Men in this age range commonly upload photos of them playing sports such as Lacross, Football, Baseball, Wrestline, Ice Hockey, Soccer, and Skateboarding. Athleticism is indeed attractive for young people.

There were two outliers we found that are also common in photos of online daters in this age range – Pickup Trucks and Military. These two may indicate a symbol of strength and also individualism which many Americans strive to achieve in their youth.

You can count on men in their late 20s to early 30s.

The next age range are young adults – and their online dating profiles show that their interests have definitively changed. Military takes the number one spot on men profiles’ from ages 25 to 34. Their top common motivators are all about portraying their individualism and machismo – wanting to present themselves having more brain over brawn.

This age bracket uploads the most profile pictures compared to other age groups. This is the time when singles are discovering who they want to be – it's the age range where they just come off the fun teenage years and are entering the age where they need to be more mature and think about their future. Therefore, these online daters share their hobbies and interests in online dating platforms in the hopes of finding someone who is like-minded.

man in savvanah

35 to 44: "I can be funny if you want."

After a quick stint with the more refined style of online dating portrayals, men ages 35 to 44 head to show off a sillier side – using memes and superhero cosplays on their dating profiles. Another motivator that we noticed in our study is men in this age range are also showing more mature activities such as beaches and shopping. There are more solo photos uploaded with creative busy backgounds or nice scenic views. Big cats also give a fair share of publicity in profiles of these men – showing fierceness and dangerous interests.

Men in their 40s to 50s either lay back or live it up.

Mid-life crisis? Fellows from 45 to 54 demographic tend to present themselves as the laid back, live it up, Hallmark gift card guy. With pictures of pleasant palm trees, memorable morning skies and sizzling savannas, we can see from the data that our men choose not to only stay fit physically but introspectively as well.

Older men like to fully enjoy life.

Online dating profiles of men over 55 don't show photos in senior care homes or boring activities. Our study shows that profiles of these men seem to keep on living the high life – with luxurious activities such as riding or flying a chopper, being or driving a yacht, expensive sports and hobbies, plus showing off of luxury vehicles. Over all, these aging macho men can be found out and about taking in some pleasurable pastimes.

male daters above 55 motive

Women are from Venus? How Women Present Themselves Online

Physical traits matter for women – women who look feminine and healthy are preferred by more men. Of course, each man has an individual taste and we can’t generalize that they have a certain type.

Based on our study, most women offer a broad view of themselves with six to nine photos uploaded on their profile. Five photos being the average for US women online daters, this is the highest among all countries in our study. Usually, three out of these five photos are selfies.

women profile picture

The seven dominant features found on most women online dating profile pictures are found on the graph on the right.

As we can see, long hair and wearing a smile have the most percentage. This just shows that many women believe that simple beauty is the most attractive type of photos. These characteristics are followed by muscles, which may come off as a surprise. Women like to flex their toned body too! Next involves the showing of tongue which shows a bit of playfulness. The rest of the dominant characteristics have less than 0.5% and involve body accessories.

female appearance characteristics

How does the average female online dater look like?

average female online dater

The average female online dater is a little bit younger than the average male online dater. She likes to upload photos with her friends – showing that she's a social butterfly. Like the average male online dater, she also loves to show off her toned body wearing a bikini at the beach. Sunglasses is one of her favorite accessories. She makes sure that in all her photos, she is dressed well and with the best accessory she flaunts – her smile.

Cheerleading, Bridesmaid, Cowboy Hats: Top Interests of Women Online Daters Per Age Group According to Their Profile Pictures

Comparing interests found on women online dating profiles of different age groups showed a lot about their motivations of being in online dating sites and apps. Let’s take a look!

Women Online Daters Motives

Young women like to be your cheerleader!

Women seem to show off their fun sides on their online dating profiles, especially when they're young and carefree. Of course, cheerleading is very popular, and photos in cheerleading outfits or events are often used in profile – which can often be interpreted as "yes, I have a social life." 

Hedgehogs take the number two spot, which comes off as a bit of surprise. However, hedgehogs did become popular as a pet recently – that could be the reason.

Women in their late 20s to early 30s are more than just a pretty face.

Sexy lady on yatch

A mix of traits concerning appearance, hobbies, and achievements, women of this age range seem to want to show their best sides. Most profile photos used by online daters from this age range are styled and curated – showing off their best poses in the best backgrounds possible. They also use their photos as bridesmaids – showing their best made up faces and pretty friends.

Of course, this age range is also popular for sexual experimentation and body confidence, so many women ages 25 to 34 upload photos with revealing clothing and fetish clothes.

Finding like-minded people is the priority of women age 35 to 44.

In this age bracket, women online daters seem to portray their true personalities – whether it’s elegance, cuteness, sporty or artsy. As we can see on the list on the right, many interests dive in these different characteristics. Women online daters between the ages of 35 to 44 know who they are, what they like and they aren't afraid to show it. They have probably been involved in different kinds of relationships so now they're looking for like-minded people that can be the right person who will truly accept them for who they are.

older woman profile picture

It's never too late to find love for women ages 45 to 54.

What’s very interesting in this age range is Cowboy hats top the list – could it be an expression of true country love or just a party accessory? Christmas trees are the second most popular, which shows affection to the holiday season and expresses a certain wish for romance. We’re also seeing different, more matured interests such as cruising, flower, sailing and other sports.

Older women are looking for someone to grow old with.

Women older than 55 are very down-to-earth here. They love food, their family and pets. Glasses are seen more often here and while still enjoying sports, art is also very important here. Either in a museum or with an own canvas to fill. Some women in this age group may not be too familiar with selfies or snapshots, so they use a professional portrait like in their IDs as their profile picture.

How Americans Present Themselves in Online Dating Sites

american online dating profiles

Regardless of the gender, Americans have a lot in common when it comes to how they build their online dating profiles - this includes the profile pictures they upload. Analyzing 4.9 million pictures from the US, we can tell from the sum of images we've seen on a profile if the person they belong to could be a good match. Not only just from their looks, but from what they show.

Let’s take a look at the most popular characteristics behind American online dating photos:

#1 Beaches and Sunsets or Forests and Twilights?

American Profile Backgrounds

Online daters should definitely present themselves outside their apartments or living rooms - a nice surrounding is always a good chance for a lovely picture.

According to our study, most American online daters prefer forest and nature as backgrounds. This is followed by a beach or bay scenery, home (usually selfies), and other scenic views. These backgrounds is no surprise as there are many great cities and nature spots in the United States.

Pictures with “visible weather” are rarer than people might think. Selfies that mostly show the person itself and not much surrounding are not given any weather tag. So, only about a tenth of all pictures features some visible climate. Even so, it comes to no surprise that nice daylight or sunshine are more popular, considering that they like to take photos in scenic backgrounds.

american profile setting
American profile weather

More than a third of all pictures have a dominant blue feature in them – this includes blue sky, ocean, blue clothing, and a blue tint filter. Monochromatic colors, white and black, are the next popular ones as many online daters like to upload black and white photos.

#2 Fancy some fast food and a glass of cold beer?

Drinks or beverages are the most popular thing to pose with when it comes to online dating profile pictures. Beer, which is very popular among all age groups take almost 50% of American’s favorite beverage. Liquor such as whisky and shots come next – which intentionally shows that these online daters are fun to be with.

Needless to say, American online daters love to party. But use these kinds of pictures with caution. Especially for men who use more of such photos – not every woman appreciate looking at wasted photos.


Featuring food on online dating profile pictures are a bit rarer, but still one in fifty pictures show something more or less yummy. Majority of food featured on profiles are fast food, followed by healthy food, and sweets. More men post food photos than women, but women tend to post more sweets – from cookies to chocolates.

#3 A glimpse of American interests?

These ten interests and hobbies are the most commonly found on American online dating sites. There is no doubt that Americans love being physically active with a wide variety of sports, either in a team or alone at the gym or outside.

Travel comes in second, and the most popular sight is the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We also found many sightseeing spots within the USA such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Grand Canyon, and the Hollywood Sign.

Weapons make the last in the list – but that still means there is a good number of online daters posing with their weapons. Many Americans are liberated with owning guns for protection.

most popular american interests
american favorite travel spots

There’s no doubt that dogs are the most favorite pet of US-Americans. More than 80% of the profile photos included in our study feature a “good boy” or “good girl”.

Dogs mean a lot of responsibility and have a strong bound to their owners. So a “dog person” is said to be reliable, outgoing and is able to take over the responsibility for an animal that needs a lot of attention and care.

american profile with dogs

Also, only a small amount of online daters pose with their cars, but for the ones who did, we’ve noticed that Americans love their own vehicle brands. Looking at the gender ratio, more men take photos with their cars, which shows pride over their masculinity and achievement of owning a car.

Most Common Profile Pictures and What They Really Say

Profile photos are what gets the attention of dating site members. You really have to show your best sides in a set of photos that are not too few and not too much. Photos should captivate the other end user and encourage him or her to swipe right or click the ‘Send Message’ button.

Online daters’ profile pictures tell a lot about a person. With each profile photo uploaded, there are subtle meanings behind them, even if the uploader doesn’t intend to. Little did most people know, choosing profile pictures can happen subconsciously – it’s not always just because they look “nice” in the photo.

With that, let's see what the most common profile pictures in online dating sites are and the hidden subtext beneath them:

hidden subtext profile pictures

#1 "Let's get married."

Profile Photo Wedding

Photos taken from a wedding make great profile photos – you’re all made up and groomed, it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo. However, using photos taken from weddings as profile pictures may have an underlying meaning of... “Hey, all my friends are getting married and I just wanna let you know that I’m looking to get married as well.”

However, it could also mean that weddings or social gatherings are important to the person who uses this kind of profile picture. 

And so, if you want to swipe right, you have to be ready for these kinds of occasions – your girl or your man is a socialite.

Gender Distribution Wedding Pics

We did a study, and it’s surprising to see that more men (by 9%) use photos taken at weddings (as groomsmen) on their online dating profiles. And, most of these men are within the age range of 18 to 34 years old. This is the age bracket where people put so much importance to social status. Hence, it could be the right subtext we can take from these online daters who use photos taken from weddings.

Giving insights to the social life is something that many online daters do. Almost a fifth (18.5 percent) of all pictures in our study include other people such as friends and family. When online daters show themselves within their social circle, the message is “look, I’m not a sad person sitting alone at home”.

Women tend to upload more photos with their friends. But a tip from us, don’t make all your profile pictures with friends – you want to have photos too that show just you. This is also to avoid some messages asking you to introduce them to your friend, especially if she has a beautiful vibe.

#2 “I have/want kids and my own family.”

Profile Photo Kid

Profile photos with kids on them are not so often used. Most online dating sites who have photo upload approval process do not allow kids to be published on their site or app for safety reasons. Yet there are still online daters who use photos with their kids as a display photo on their profile. What could be the underlying message?

Most online daters who put kids on their profile photos are single parents. They want other members of the dating site to know from the get-go that they come in a package. Therefore, these online daters are looking for someone who is supportive and understanding of their situation. They might also prefer someone who has kids already too.

Gender distribution kids
Age Distribution Kids

Surprisingly though, most people who have kids on their profile pictures are those within the younger age groups.

Could it be their younger siblings or is it a case of teen mom? With regard to the gender distribution, there is an equally fair share between male and females.

#3 “I want sex.”


Showing off bodies are not new to online dating profiles. Selfies in underwear or lingerie are also uploaded, mostly on casual dating sites. These profile pictures – where online daters show a lot of nudity, underwear, leather or seductive poses – literally scream they want sex.

These pictures are common in erotic dating sites, fetish dating sites, and casual dating apps. It’s not a rare thing to see nudity in these kinds of websites.


We found that there are more women who use explicit content on their profile photos. According to our study, the age bracket between 18 to 24 years old take the biggest share.

These young people are emitting self-confidence like there’s no tomorrow. They work hard to achieve a great body, and they want to flaunt it. It could also be that they truly choose to live their (love) life the way they like it.

But with today’s fast-paced technology, these kinds of profile photos can easily be used against them in the future. Maybe they are unaware of the consequences or they just don’t care.

Regardless, casual dating apps are commonly used for quick hookups – maybe that's why sexy photos are used for profile pictures, cause most are looking for a fun night.


#4 “I just really want sex, that’s it.”


While most dating sites do not allow uploading pornographic photos on their members’ profiles, unsolicited x-rated profile photos can still be found in some online dating sites (Tinder included) – especially those where there are no administrators moderating the site.

These photos go beyond sexy lingerie, bedroom photos as they are “dirty” photos with full frontal nudity. These profile pictures often include genitals or even actual sexual acts.

It’s not a surprise that there are more men who use x-rated pictures as their online dating profile photos. Men are more liberated in the sense that their manhood is their pride. Even if their d*ck pics get scattered all across social media, it won’t do their reputation much harm compared to how a woman would be shamed. Still, there is still a good percentage of women users who use x-rated photos on casual dating sites.


#5 “Looking for cuddles...”


Another pretty classic online dating motive with a subtle message is the “laying in bed with puppy dog eyes glancing into the camera” one. Whoever has these on their profile is in desperate need of a good long hug, a neck massage, and tender cuddling all night long.

These photos are often not sexual, hence, online daters who use this are most likely really looking for a good match that can potentially lead to a relationship.

More men are giving out free invitations into their cuddle zone (the bed). Looking at the age distribution, the younger age bracket mostly use this kind of profile photo. Maybe because the older age ranges are already independent? And the younger generations are longing for someone to spend the night with because of the pressure of today's times?

Whatever the reason is, many online daters are looking for cuddle buddies in online dating platforms. Will you find yours?


Profiles Photos are the Baits in Online Dating

What the appearance attracts, the character holds. This is especially true in online dating because here, the  profile picture holds the crucial first impression. And – many users deduce a subtle message from the photos you use! So whether you want to let them know whatever it is you’re looking for in an online dating site or not, have a trusted pair of eyes that will tell you what kind of vibe you’re giving off. If you want to use the perfect profile picture, read this article: 10 Rules for the Perfect Profile Picture.

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